Najee | Mind Over Matter [Concord Music, 2009]Sometimes making music is all about the mechanics – balancing the melody with the harmony and the rhythm, making sure the tempo is right from the beginning of the song to the end, matching the right vocalist to the story within the lyrics, knowing when to come in with the solos and when to hang back…the litany of technical details to consider in crafting a piece of good music can be endless.
But sometimes the process is much more intuitive and effortless. Sometimes the planets line up and the right groove emerges on its own, and all anyone needs to do – musicians and listeners alike – is get on board and ride into a realm of limitless possibilities.
That intuitive approach is at the heart of Mind Over Matter (HUCD 3156), the new recording by saxophonist Najee set for release on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. In addition to Najee’s fine balance of songcraft and musicianship, the album also includes songwriting and guest appearances by keyboardist Jeff Lorber and vocalists Eric Benét and Gary Taylor.
The album title, says Najee, is inspired by Miles Davis’ approach to songwriting, especially in the latter part of his career. “In his later years, he took a very loose and improvisational approach,” he says. “He would start with nothing more than a groove that Marcus Miller or some other member of his band would lay down. And from there he would just develop these melodies that were very simple but at the same time very compelling and very memorable. It was a creative process that bypassed the nuts and bolts of the song and just got right to the essence of it.”
Whatever the groove – be it R&B, neo-soul, contemporary jazz or an intriguing blend of all these styles and more – Mind Over Matter adds another layer of sophistication and polish to Najee’s substantial and diverse body of work. “Whenever I go into the studio, I try to make a record that’s a little different from the last one,” he says. “I want people to get the same Najee that they’re familiar and comfortable with, but at the same time, I want them to hear something fresh, something interesting, something unpredictable – with a couple extra voices in the mix that they haven’t heard on my records in the past.”
Dig into the groove that is uniquely Najee’s. Experience Mind Over Matter.
Release Date: August 25, 2009